In an epic game that will be talked about for many years, Team USA prevailed in a shootout over the Russians all star team 3-2. T. J. Oshie was the obvious choice for the hero, going 4-6 in the shootout including the penultimate one but both sides had so many significant chances to win the game that they must all be mentioned. Pavel Datsyuk with 2 goals, a shootout goal, and more importantly missing a wide open net in the third. Joe Pavelski with a sweet goal off of a sweeter pass from Patrick Kane, St. Louis Blues captain David Backes and Rangers captain Ryan Callahan playing a nasty, physical game with several bone rattling hits and Alex Ovechkin’s seven shots on goal all quality chances. The other Alexander, disgraced former Predators star Alex Radulov took two incredibly stupid penalties that led to 2 power play goals for the US. Russian goalie Sergei Bobrovski was magnificent, stopping ALL five on five chances. Jonathan Quick was equally clutch, giving up one even strength and one PP goal. Honorable mention, Ryan Kesler winning one faceoff after another, including the one preceding the Pavelski power play goal.
Random thoughts and musings: does Pavel Datsyuk have a computer for a brain because he seems to constantly out-think his opponents. Anaheim Ducks D man Cam Fowler doing his Scott Neidermayer impression by consistently pinching down the wall and ending up in front of the net, scoring Team USA’s first goal off of an uncanny pass from JVR. Slava Voynov showing off the skills he regularly demonstrates for the LA Kings, especially on the power play. Penguins D men Orpick and Martin, along with Suter and McDonagh settling things down when the Russians pressured Team USA unmercifully. Patrick Kane and Phil Kessel with twelve very creative shots on goal, Dustin Brown’s knee on knee hit on Tyutin (what a surprise, see Tomas Hertl). And so on and sally forth to the international game or IIHF.
Big sheet of ice doesn’t seem to lend itself to more scoring in my opinion. The Olympic dimensions lend themselves a little more room but the teams play a more tactical game of protecting the middle. We saw what happened when US D John Carlsen didn’t protect the middle against Datsyuk: GOAL. When it is done properly, defense on the big ice leads to a lot of passing on the perimeter, but not a lot of cycling and half wall strategy that we see in the NHL. Mistakes are glaring on the bigger ice because guys seem to bury their chances when they occur.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the reason the US got to the shootout. At 4:40, an apparent goal by Feodor Tyutin, Columbus D man was initially thought to be good and the crowd went crazy. Meanwhile, J. Quick was talking to the officials and they huddled up, then reviewed the goal. Replays showed a good goal, not played with a high stick or any other reason for waving it off. The crack crew of NBC then focused on Quick’s left post, which showed the net to be partially dislodged by about 2 inches. NHL rules would have allowed the goa to stand but not IIHF rules. So, by a twist of fate or (gamesmanship by Quick) Team USA was allowed to have storybook ending to a contest against their formerly most bitter rival. The chatter was that the socio-political implications of the game was nowhere near the 80 US victory and that is partially true. However, IMHO the game was played with the fervor of a Cup Final game by both sides, and will remain a game for the ages.